Today is exactly seven seasons before the great winter solstice of 12-21-12. And I am not one of those crazy people out there that thinks all these weird things about it and is taking it very literally or whatever. It is certainly not the end of the world, but I do believe that there is a very powerful spiritual significance to that date as a symbolic date of the time in history that we are in that is very, very crucial. I call it the Great Re-reversal. You know, 12-21-12. It is like reversal, right? Symbolically, even in the numbers. You know, divine order is represented by number 1, and then the human order by number 2. But when divine order comes first, human order has its place, and it is wonderful and in harmony. But then, when the ego takes over and the human order takes precedence over divine order, then you have human history over the last few thousand years. But, the Great Re-reversal is about to take place and coming back to right alignment with divine order, taking first place in which human order then has its rightful place.
So, anyway, it is all symbolic, and it is not all going to happen on one day two years from now. I think that is rather na´ve to think that, but rather, it is a symbolic date just saying, okay. This year, this decade, and this century, this millennium would be a nice time to make that shift, you know? And it starts now. We don't have to wait. We start it now. So today is exactly seven seasons before that beautiful, symbolic date, and it is an opportunity to practice transforming seven areas of our lives and to practice the seven great practices that lead us to enlightenment and perhaps even practice the traditional seven factors of enlightenment that the Buddha specifically taught.
So I invite you to just—like tonight we are ending our series on the seven chakras, but it begins once again for the next seven seasons, so this is a seven-season practice period. So we have done 10-week practice periods and 21-day practice periods and seven-week practice periods. Now we have a seventh-season practice period. So I invite you to make that commitment today that for the next seven seasons, you will do your best to consistently practice so that you can transform all the different areas of your life so that each of your chakras which represents different parts of you or yourself will all be in harmony with each other all saying yes.
You know, you've heard me say this before. Enlightenment is very easy. All you have to do is say yes to wisdom and compassion, which is what enlightenment is all about, wisdom and compassion. On the other hand, it is very hard because whereas one part of us says yes, another part might say, "I don't know. Maybe. I don't know. Definitely not. Yes. Okay. No. Yes. No. No. Yes." So our practice then is to practice with each part of ourselves, which is symbolized by the seven chakras. Of course there are more, but those are just the seven major areas. But there are minor sub-areas too. We just practice with all of them. We practice in meditation and lovingkindness and live everyday life mindfully with each other collectively with the help of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, with the help of the earth and the animals and plants and minerals and all beings. We practice so that all of them start to open up and say yes, and one day when they all say yes together, that is enlightenment. And maybe it is enlightenment that lasts for three seconds, but that is great. Three seconds of enlightenment, when everything says yes. And then you kind of go back to okay. Maybe, I'm not so sure. But keep practicing until we always constantly, consistently say yes moment by moment.
So, we start off as part-time Buddhas to full-time Buddhas, right? Part-time enlightenment to full-time enlightenment. So, let this be seven seasons. What if you could be enlightened, even if just for a few seconds, by the end of the seven seasons? What if? So practice with that hopeful, joyful expectancy. Yes, I can do it. Yes, you can. So practice in the next seven seasons and of course, when it is seven months before that date, I will start again. Okay. If you didn't do so well, we will do it again in seven months and then seven weeks before and then seven days. Okay.
But, you know, it is interesting. Last night, Cornell and I and some others were down near San Antonio in the cave without a name where Jodi Roberts and Cornell and others were doing music in the cave. It was so beautiful to be inside in the earth, you know? It was a lot like being in the womb of mother earth, and I actually felt this really powerful earth energy, you know? Maybe it's because there's not all of these human technology waves going all around, because like, you know, we were protected. Cell phones wouldn't even work either, so it was like it was protected, and you could feel just the earth's energy.
So I just have discovered—I don't know the name it is called, but there's a certain frequency that the earth vibrates, pulsates, this very, very powerful frequency that you can't hear with the human ear, but it is what keeps animals and humans psychologically healthy. Because they did an experiment. They put these people in a room that was completely sealed for a few days so that that wavelength, it could not be heard by the brain. I mean, it couldn't be felt. And they started to go crazy because you need that hum from the earth. You need that connection to the earth's song, the earth's music to be strong. That's really nice.
So, celebrating spring equinox, we are also celebrating our oneness with the earth. We are returning to the mother. And there is a wonderful chant: Returning, returning, returning to the mother of us all. And that is what is happening. We are returning to the mother, and we are remembering who we are in our connection to the cosmos, to the stars, to the planets, to the moon, to the sun, to everything. So our enlightenment is not only enlightenment about our human condition. It is also enlightenment about the earth and our oneness with the earth. It is about enlightenment with the whole universe and with all creatures, all beings. It is not just enlightenment about emptiness and the infinite. It is enlightenment about just this right here, right now. This breath, this step, this heartbeat.
So today I am making a recommitment to the bodhisattva path, the path of enlightenment for all beings, and you know, I was taking a walk with a friend a few days ago in Austin, and then we stopped and meditated for 20 minutes on the grass. It was so beautiful outside, and you know, it is nice to meditate in a nice safe environment in an enclosed room with no mosquitoes, but you know, there's something very powerful when you can also meditate out in nature. It is very, very powerful. So anyway, after that meditation, this thought arose—and usually the thoughts that arise at the end of meditation are very, very from my heart. Unlike the thoughts I have near the beginning of the meditation, which are like the grocery list and whatever.
But I just had this thought: I am dedicated to your enlightenment. I am dedicated to your enlightenment. And this thought came. It was like, oh. This is my attitude toward every person I meet. Or at least this is my intention to have this attitude with every person I meet: I am dedicated to your enlightenment. And if I can think that thought, if it does not leave very much room to be mad at them or to be agitated with them or to wish they were not there, you know? Or in my way. I am dedicated to your enlightenment. And then as I was meditating on that thought, then I heard the next thought, which was connected, which was: And all beings are dedicated to my enlightenment. With a little parentheses: whether they consciously realize it or not. And then that was like—so I began to practice with that, and I realized if I can practice with that in my interactions every day and even with people who might be annoying to me or irritating to me or don't look like they're trying to enlighten me at all, but at the deepest, truest level, all beings are dedicated to my enlightenment, whether they are consciously aware of it or not.
And so with that attitude then, I realized that everything in the universe is happening for me, not to me. Use that for your mantra. It is not happening to me, but for me. Everything. So that is the meditation, because you don't really feel that or believe that or realize that at first, but it is a practice, so keep practicing that, and eventually you realize yes, everything is happening for me, not to me—meaning it is not against me, but it is for me. Even the unpleasant stuff, because the unpleasant stuff, when you can work with that, it can become—instead of garbage, it becomes compost and turns into fertilizer in a beautiful garden of strength and compassion, wisdom, and energy. But until then, it looks like garbage. That is why we practice. Without practice, it just stays garbage, but with practice, everything can just become compost and fertilizer in the garden of beautiful flowers, everything.
So, what did the Buddha teach as far as the seven factors of enlightenment? The first factor of enlightenment that the Buddha taught is mindfulness. This is the foundation of our practice, and mindfulness has many different meanings. One meaning is awareness, just being aware. I am being aware that I am kind. I'm being aware that I'm not being kind. I am very aware of this step, the feeling of the step. I'm aware that I'm not aware of this step. I'm aware that I've made an intention to meditate, and I'm aware that my thought has wandered, and I'm aware that I'm bringing it back my breath.
So mindfulness means awareness, but it also means nonjudgmental awareness, radical acceptance, just being with things just as they are. And that is a practice. Nonjudgmental awareness. So breathing in and breathing out with the group, someone's cell phone vibrated. It is just vibrating. No judgment. It is just oh, there it is, and here's my breath. Someone just coughed. The sound of the cough, and the feeling of my breath. No judgment. So this nonjudgmental aspect of what mindfulness is is very crucial to our practice, because it is the part of the practice that gives us the strength to radically be with everything without trying to control it or judge it or suppress it.
Audience Member: Amen.
ChiSing: So mindfulness is the foundation of our practice. And then there is investigation. And there is energy, and joy, and tranquility, and concentration. Ooh. Someone was a very good student.
Audience Member: [inaudible]
ChiSing: And equanimity. Okay. Now, what helped me remember this—because I mean, there are so many lists in Buddhism—what help me remember this was to correspond them to the chakras. Of course, they don't exactly correspond, but it is helpful. So the first is the root chakra, foundation, and mindfulness is the foundation of our practice. And then investigation of phenomenon, investigating reality, you know, I think of this as a sexual energy chakra - of investigation. [laughter] The third, the solar plexus, the power chakra, energy, vitality, and then the fourth chakra of the heart, joy energy. It is joyful heart energy. And then peace. All this energy has to like now kind of funnel through the throat to bring it to tranquility, tranquility and peace, and then once it comes together right here at the third eye, deep concentration, samadhi, focus. And see, sometimes people stop there. They're like, "Okay. I am totally enlightened now because I'm totally concentrated." But you know what? There's one more step. Let it all go. Let go of wanting to be enlightened. Let go of wanting to be a Buddha. Like always thinking that you are hot stuff. Let go of your pride, like oh, I reached concentration and samadhi. You have to let that go. Otherwise, you get stuck there. So equanimity, letting go, letting be, liberation. Freedom is another. So, mindfulness—
And by the way, this word joy is different from the word joy with the four heart qualities: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. That joy is different from this joy. This joy is from the word pitti, whereas the love, compassion through equanimity joy is mudita. And mudita is sympathetic joy. When something good happens to someone else, you just feel sympathetically joyful with them, and it is your own joy, whereas this joy, pitti, is more like blissful, rapturous joy, so blissful, so ecstatic. Ecstatic joy from the heart. So that is a little bit different joy. But all of these are factors of enlightenment, and if we cultivate each of these, they will become a power source that grows more and more energized until full enlightenment.
But if you want to divide them up into categories, mindfulness is balanced, nonjudgmental referee kind of. Everything as it is, the ability just to be with everything as it is. And then the second, third, and fourth factors are more of an energizing kind of energy, right? They uplift and energize your practice, whereas the fifth, sixth and seventh factors are calming, pacifying qualities, right? So basically if you want to break it down to just three, rather than having seven, you just basically need the kind of practices that invigorate your spiritual life and balance it with the kinds of practices that calm and pacify and bring serenity to your practice and life, and of course mindfulness tends to need to be at the center and circumference of all of that to make sure everything is in balance. Because mindfulness is also awareness, so you are aware. A little bit too much of this, and not enough of this. Mindfulness will help you know how to balance your practice. Okay. Awareness.
So, those are the Buddha's seven factors of enlightenment, and then I also wanted to share with you some great practices. As you know, there are different intensities of enlightenment, and I've shared with you before that the initial, easiest stage of enlightenment, all of us can attain in this lifetime, and maybe we can even attain it in the next seven seasons, so with that in mind, what are these seven practices that can help us attain the first stage of enlightenment? They are talked about in different ways, different numbers, and everything, but I kind of boiled down into seven, because I like the number seven because of the seven chakras and the seven seasons. So let's do that. By the way, I was saying earlier, so I don't forget, when I was in a cave, and then I came out of the cave, I saw the full moon last night, and I thought, it is no coincidence that the spring equinox, which is seven seasons before 12-21-12 happens to have a full moon, as if the universe is saying, "Pay attention. Now is the time," right?
Audience Member: It was a super moon, too.
ChiSing: And the super moon.
Audience Member: It's the closest it's been in 19 years.
Audience Member: Yeah.
ChiSing: See? So, today is very special, and the fact that you are in this room means that you have a special place in the great awakening that is taking place on the planet now, and so we are just one of many gatherings probably today all across the planet of people who are stepping forward. So the great practices are great generosity, great virtue, devotion to the Buddha, devotion to the dharma, devotion to the sangha, and it is also devotion to the five mindfulness trainings. But anyway, I don't want to get into all the details. Basically, it is pretty much common sense stuff. If you can truly devote yourself to the seven practices—you know, it might be five, six, eight, whatever, but it boils down to whatever you understand it to be. If you devote yourself to that, then you can realize at least the first stage of enlightenment. We can do it together. You don't have to do it alone. We can do it together.
So I invite you to make a commitment to—you know, obviously, I'm not asking you to commit to these exact seven things, because I can't even remember how to tell you, but to the spirit of what these represent. And of course every tradition, every religion has a similar set, right? And if you meditate, you will find within your own heart your inner teacher will tell you what that set of practices will be for you, you know? But anyway, in general, it is basically you're committing to the path of the bodhisattva, of wanting to become a Buddha, to become fully enlightened, or even just at least initially enlightened that you can be of service and benefit to all beings.